The amount of design software on the market can be overwhelming. Consumers are not only faced with dedicated logo software, but also programs which can handle logo design to some extent—such as general design software, motion software or even photo programs like Photoshop. Simply put, not everyone has the time to research the differences when looking for logo design software. That’s where we come in. This guide reviews 13 logo design programs you should know about in three skill-based categories: beginner, intermediate and professional. Time to get with the program!
Beginner logo design programs
Programs in the beginner range are suitable for people who don’t have time to learn complex software, yet would like some control over the logo design process. In this range you can expect small libraries of clip art, basic color options, and straight-forward text editing. The workflows are usually drag and drop, and a simple logo can be made in less than 15 minutes. If you are a small business owner, event organizer, need a quick logo, or just like playing around with different options these programs might be worth checking out.
***99designs beginner pick***
Text editing options and Mac/Windows compatibility makes LogoSmartz one of our top picks in the beginner design program range.
Cost: $39.95 (30 day trial)
- The pre-made templates make LogoSmartz an easy program for anyone to jump into.
- The clip-art libraries are well-organized, with categories such as delivery and education.
- Unlike most beginner programs, this one has character spacing options (as well as some potentially fun ones such as “wave” and “concave”).
- The preset color palette options include some unusual effects, such as shadows and bevels, which might be useful for some people.
- Support for Mac and Windows
- Design choices are limited to the clip-art library, which can seem dated and requires some creativity to use well (however this is par for the course in these beginner programs).
- The tools are unlabeled and can take a minute to figure out.
Who should use this: It seems funny to talk about character-spacing as a “special feature” in a design program, but keep in mind these programs are for beginners. This one in particular might speak more to users who like to fine tune the text of their logo. Especially if you use a Mac!
***99designs beginner pick***
Sothink is the only program in the beginner range that allows you to explore the full color spectrum. This ability, in combination with the pen tool, makes Sothink a solid contender in the logo design program game.
Cost: $59.99 (30 day free trial)
- Unlike most other beginner-friendly programs, Sothink Logo Maker offers a pen tool that allows you to draw your own shapes. To give you an idea of how powerful this can be, check out this video of one user “cartoonizing” a photo of themselves.
- The real headline here is the color options. This program offers access to the full color spectrum and even has a nifty palette generator which will take your selected color and create corresponding analogous, triadic, and other types of schemes.
- Sothink Logo Maker comes with a large selection of templates and vector shapes (pattern, nature, transportation, etc).
- As with other programs in the beginner range, Sothink Logo Maker lets you resize the canvas, upload photos, which again allows for the design of collateral such as business cards, or even Facebook banners.
- It’s hard to say if the price justifies the added color capability.
- Windows only!
Who should use this: If you have a sensitive eye for color and would like to fine tune that aspect of your logo, this program is without a doubt the choice for you.
AAA logo maker is like “two turntables and a microphone”, only minus the microphone—it has the bare essentials to get the job done.
Cost: $49.95 (Free trial)
- If it isn’t clear from the screenshot, this program is simple and easy to use: a clip art library, color pallette and edit menu is just about all you will interact with.
- The canvas is resizable, meaning you could even layout simple collateral, such as business cards or web graphics.
- The image upload feature could be useful for people who want a photo of themselves on their business card (think lawyers or counselors), or even useful for people trying to layout Facebook banners or profile pictures.
- The ability to customize is limited and you are pretty much stuck with the colors in the pallette.
- Mac users go home!
Who should use this: If you’re looking for basic functionality (as well as some perks such as image uploading and a resizable canvas) AAA Logo Maker might be a good place to start.
Summitsoft Logo Design Studio offers some perks that other beginner programs don’t, such as vector expansion packs, logo assistance and even a pen tool to draw your own shapes! While the preset vector shapes won’t blow you away, they can be useful with a little creativity.
- “Out of the box”, Summitsoft Logo Design Studio comes with 2,000 templates and 6,000 vector shapes (yes, that’s a lot as far as these beginner programs go).
- Just like AAA Logo Maker, you can resize the canvas and upload images. This means you can work on projects like business cards, or add a picture of yourself if you work in a field where that makes sense.
- Summitsoft offers additional clip-art packs such as holiday, sports, construction, etc for $19.95-$49.95.
- Summitsoft also offers logo assistance, which basically means you can send them your logo and they will send you back three iterations. This makes sense if you want to see some variations on a sketch or theme.
- Unlike most beginner programs, you can draw your own vector art with a pen tool. This really opens up the possibilities for this program. With the image upload feature, you could even trace photos!
- Vector packs can read as flat and generic, so expect having to “spice” things up with some creativity.
- This program can be a bit overwhelming if you’re unfamiliar with design.
- The output formats lack the standard EPS vector format (SVG is available).
- Windows only!
Who should use this: This program is for the beginner who is ready to jump in and “get their hands dirty”. While you can quickly generate a logo, the real benefits of this program come through drawing your own shapes and uploading images.
If you are into primitive and dated software, DesignWorkz might entertain your Windows nostalgia for a half hour, but otherwise don’t expect to be pumping quality logos out of this program.
- A few clicks here, a few clicks there and voila!
- DesignWorkz hasn’t been updated since 2011.
- Text and background only? Can you even call that a logo? At least the backgrounds can be gradient…
- Windows only!
Who should use this: We wouldn’t recommend this one unless you are really in the mood for a strange and somewhat charming blast from the past.
Laughing Bird’s The Creator is simple… almost painfully simple.
- The Creator is one of the most basic beginner Mac programs. While the results aren’t mind-blowing, anyone can create a basic logo within minutes.
- The workflow is almost entirely drag and drop (you can click to choose various elements you’d like to incorporate), which makes it quick and easy to learn for users of any skill level.
- Similar to Summitsoft’s Logo Design Studio, additional template packs can be purchased.
- Support for Mac and Windows!
- The complete lack of text editing options can lead to some unwanted results (notice how the “i” and “r” in “Firefly” overlap because they are too close). If your business name has odd character spacing in a given font, the only option is to choose another font.
- Exporting is limited to JPEG, PNG and SWF (no EPS).
Who should use this: If you are in a pinch and need a logo ASAP, The Creator might just save you, but don’t expect a quality design.
Intermediate logo software
So you have some extra time on your hands, maybe you have a business you’d like to design a logo for, or you even have interest in doing some freelance logo design for other people. The intermediate range of logo design programs is a good place to start. Here you can expect the ability to draw and color custom vector shapes, make typographic alterations, and create layers (just to name a few capabilities).
***99designs intermediate pick***
Affinity Designer is a beautiful and simple design program with extensive functionality and an emphasis on user interface. Most notably, you can create raster layers and vector layers (which makes it sort of a Photoshop/Illustrator hybrid). For these reasons (and more) we’ve chosen Affinity as our intermediate logo design program pick!
Cost: $49.99 (10 day free trial)
- Affinity has a modern user interface that is pleasant to look at and intuitive to use. Even new users shouldn’t have too much trouble finding the tools they are looking for.
- What makes Affinity especially unique is it allows you to create pixel (or raster-based) layers in addition to vector layers. In the world of logo design, this can be extremely handy for things like importing textures for a logo, or a photo of yourself for a business card (without having to use extra programs).
- All common file types are supported (including EPS).
- Affinity has some features you will find in the professional range, such as customizable style presets (which allow you to save a given set of parameters for application on several logos or files).
- For those who are ready to sink into this program, Affinity sells a printed workbook to go along with this software. It is a 448 full color book teaching you skills, tips and tricks.
- No subscription fees!
- Affinity is lacking some of the more advanced features we see in top-of-the-line programs such as perspective grid and workspace presets.
Who should use this: Affinity will work well for designers who are gearing up towards a professional career but are on a budget. Additionally it makes a great option for anyone seeking an Adobe-alternative.
Sketch has the strongest online design community of any of the intermediate-range design programs we tested. Add in the clean user-interface and it’s clear why Sketch is more than worth a shot.
Cost: $99 per year (free 30 day trial)
- It’s easy to see that a lot of thought went into the Sketch user interface. It’s layout and functionality are minimal and intuitive. Ultimately it opens the door to designers of many skill levels.
- Tools are labeled with words (this means no memorization of symbols)
- Designs can be easily exported in a number of file types (including the universal EPS vector format).
- Sketch has a very strong online community where you can find people sharing tips and tricks. Additionally Sketch offers online tutorials to set you on the right path.
- Sketch is not a dedicated logo design program. In this case that means that the preloaded templates deal more with social media. This doesn’t mean you can’t design any kind of logo you want—it just means that you should expect to start from scratch for logos!
- This program is less robust than programs like Adobe Illustrator. Functions like transforming or stretching text are difficult or not possible at all.
- Annual payments might deter designers who are looking for a one-time buy.
- Windows users go home! (Mac only, sorry)
Who should use this: Sketch is great for the Mac designer who is interested in designing more than one logo (or project) but isn’t ready to learn a more complex program such as Illustrator. Additionally, Sketch is a great choice If having an online community is important to you.
Inkscape is the only open-source design program that still receives regular updates. While it’s not the most elegant, it contains all of the standard features of design programs in this range.
- Inkscape has the most features out of any free vector program we found. Expect basic text modification, a full color pallette, premade vector shapes and the familiar pen tool.
- Inkscape is open source, meaning any developer can work on the source code. On paper, open source application will be more useful over the long-term because they invite more developers (users included) to work on them.
- Inkscape has an active blog on their main page with links to fun events such as Inktober, and info on events they take part in, such as Google’s Summer of code.
- Getting Inkscape to run on Mac was a little tricky (It runs through XQuartz, which is a deprecated Window system for Macs)
- For a Mac user, the controls will feel non-intuitive. For example, you must use control instead of command for most keyboard shortcuts.
- Only outputs in the SVG vector format, which is less common than EPS.
Who should use this: Designers on a tight budget who are looking for more functionality than the average free design program, or developers who would like to get involved with the source code of the programs they are using.
Professional logo design software
When you are ready to commit to graphic design as a career path, the professional range of design programs is the place to look. In these programs you will find features like layer panels with advanced functionality; vector effects such as warping and distortion; AI-infused sketch modes; and handy features such as perspective grid!
***99designs professional pick***
Adobe Illustrator is the industry standard for vector design. It is fully featured and enables logo designers to create anything imaginable!
Cost: $19.99 per month (free 7 day trial)
- Illustrator is the industry standard for vector art. This means you will get a high level of customer support, frequent updates, plentiful learning resources, a strong online community and to top it off you should have no problem passing along Illustrator files to design teams, clients or companies.
- Illustrator contains all the tools to create and manipulate vector art in anyway imaginable: layers, drawing tools, effects, live trace, gradients, you name it.
- Adobe programs let you customize your workspace and save workspace presets. This means you can choose which tools and windows are visible, and also choose where they exist on the artboard. This not only makes your workspace comfortable for you, it also allows you to quickly switch between workspaces in the event you use Illustrator for different types of jobs beyond logo design.
- Illustrator files can be opened in other Adobe programs such as Photoshop or InDesign (vector information is opened into the workspace of each respective program). This is especially handy if, for example, you are designing a flyer in Photoshop and would like to incorporate some vector shapes you created in Illustrator.
- The “CC” stands for Creative Cloud, which offers cloud functionality (in other words storing your files in a place that can be accessed from any device). This is great if you work with design teams in different locations.
- Adobe Illustrator is not an intuitive program and requires substantial reading or classes to understand. Don’t expect to have a grasp of what Illustrator is capable of before practicing and experimenting.
- Monthly cost might be a turnoff to those seeking a one-time-buy (If you’re lucky you can find older versions for a fixed price).
Who should use this: Illustrator is geared towards industry professionals. If you are looking to start a career in logo design, it’s mandatory that you invest in Adobe Illustrator.
CorelDRAW has become a favorite amongst Windows users. With the recent addition of LiveSketch, it’s a powerful tool for people who like to incorporate illustration or drawn elements into their logo designs.
Cost: $499 (free 15 day trial) or you can pay for a yearly subscription for $198
- Corel’s new LiveSketch uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to interpret your drawn strokes (from drawing tablets or touchscreens). This essentially allows you to draw as you would with a pencil and paper—sketch out a shape or line with lots of little lines to get the shape and it will smooth out your line for you.
- CorelDRAW comes with over 5 hours of video tutorials.
- The cost is relatively high, which may prohibit many users.
- The user interface of CorelDRAW is slightly less intuitive than other programs on this list and will take a significant time investment to be able to learn to use the program successfully.
- Windows only!
Who should use this: Corel Draw is geared towards illustrators (hence “Draw”). With that said it is more than capable of being a powerful tool for logo design. It also makes for a solid Adobe alternative.
While Photoshop is the industry standard for editing photos, many people use it to create or to add raster (non-vector) effects to logos.
Cost: $19.99 per month (free 7 day trial)
- Being that Photoshop is another industry standard for design, it comes with all the perks listed above for Illustrator.
- Has the power to handle any and all raster (pixel-based) tasks you throw at it. This includes but is certainly not limited to creating the appearance of shiny metal, shadows or embossing.
- Fits right into the Adobe Creative Suite workflow. This means you can import Photoshop information to Illustrator and vice-versa.
- While Photoshop has vector editing tools, they are not nearly as robust as with Illustrator (don’t plan on using Photoshop as a dedicated vector program).
- Monthly subscription costs and the necessity for another dedicated vector program might be a turnoff for some.
Who should use this: When it comes to logo design, the main reason for you to use Photoshop is if you are a professional designer looking to add raster effects to a logo.
Apple Motion is a time-based program with vector capability that can bring your logo into the realm of video. In other words you can incorporate your logo on Youtube or other video based platforms.
- Apple Motion is the only program on this list that has the capability of creating video animations of logos (Photoshop can create animated GIFs, however this is different from a true video).
- Motion is perfect for implementing your logo into Youtube intros, commercials or otherwise
- It has full vector capability, meaning you can import vector art from any other vector capable program (Illustrator, Corel Draw etc.)
- Has a groupable layer panel (similar to Adobe products), which is handy when animating logo elements independently, for example when animating an abstract shape flying in behind a slowly rotating text logo.
- Adobe Motion uses keyframes (which is a standard in video software). These essentially allow you to mark points from which a given parameter will transition between.
- Every single parameter in the inspector window can be animated with keyframes!
- A lot of fun can be had right off the bat (It didn’t take us long to get some vector shapes and text to move around the screen).
- Using this software with full artistic control requires patients and practice (don’t expect your videos to look professional right away).
- Expect to spend at least several evenings watching Youtube tutorials or reading how-to articles
- Mac only!
Who should use this: Apple Motion is geared towards professionals or small business owners looking to implement a logo into video applications, and who have spare time to learn the ins and outs of a new design program type.
There are tons of logo design software options out there, and they each have a different purpose. Hopefully this guide helps you find the right one for you!